Resident Profile: Rickey Swiney

Rickey Swiney 2 WebsiteRickey Swiney will say he’s shy, but his smile will tell you otherwise.

Born and raised in Louisiana, Rickey has fond memories of being with his family and living at home. “Every day was my favorite day,” Rickey reflected, missing his parents who have since passed away. “I felt so safe with them.” He continued to live with his parents into adulthood until he started a family of his own.

Seventeen years ago, after losing his mom, he decided to move from the South to the West by himself. He’s lived all over the San Francisco Bay Area and survived a period of homelessness, heavy drug use, and several life-threatening accidents, including a bike crash that left the right side of his body paralyzed for months. While he admits that he has made his fair share of mistakes, he prides himself on being a survivor, living testimony to his past and his ability to move forward. San Francisco, Rickey says, made him the man that he is today.

Only one year into his time at the Ambassador Hotel, Rickey continues to grow. He volunteers at his building’s weekly food drop which provides residents with free groceries from the San Francisco and Marin Food Bank. He is preparing himself to return to Louisiana, to be the best father and grandfather he can be. He eagerly repeats “I’m ready” like a mantra and graciously thanks everyone around him.

“I’m looking at you,” Rickey says, facing Will Jensen, a social worker at the Ambassador. “You don’t know how much you’ve done. Since the first day I stepped in here, I felt it,” he continues, placing his hand on his chest. “The warmth here is real.”

Rickey’s warmth is real too. Readying himself for a photo, he can hardly keep a straight face as he dramatically stretches out on his chair, crosses his legs, and leans back as if posing for a fashion shoot. He finally lets himself burst into laughter and then settles into a soft smile.

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